What Did the Indians Live In? Tipis?
by Peter Brodeur
reprinted with permission in part from
Mt. Kearsarge Indian Museum
Vol 9 No 3 Autumn 1999

One of the common myths that surround the American Indians is that they lived in tipis. To be sure, some Indians did, but the dwelling of the American Indians were as varied as their environs. ...

The "People of the Woodlands" tended to live a more sedentary lifestyle. Most did some farming and hunted non-migratory game like deer and moose. These people built more permanent dwellings called wigwams and often had more than one dwelling site. There would be large summer villages by the lakes or rivers with land cleared for farming and smaller winter villages sheltered in the hills. Individual familes often had hunting and fishing camps and other locations they would occupy seasonally, rotating from site to site as the year progressed.

The wigwams of the Northeast could be round or oval, dome-shaped or conical, covered in birch bark, elm bark, or reed mats. They could be singl-family homes, duplexes, or even multim-family dwellings. A typical dwelling of the Abenaki would be a dome-shaped frame 12 to 14 feet in diameter, eight feet high in the center, formed of sapling poles, covered with birch bark and lined with reed mats. Bed platforms were attached to the inner frame to keep people off the ground and add storage space underneath. The Iroquois are also knows as the Haudenosaunee, which means "people of the longhouse", for they lived in multi-family elm bark covered lodges some of which were up to 200 feet long and housed an entire village. Most were somewhat smaller and housed eight to ten families.

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